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Britain Suspends Exploratory Drilling of Antarctic Lake

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the ice-is-not-nice dept.

United Kingdom 37

A British plan to blast a path through more than two miles of ice to reach an Antarctic lake has been suspended because of technical problems. From the article: "In a move that clears the way for U.S. and Russian teams to take the lead, Professor Martin Siegert said technical problems and a lack of fuel had forced the closure on Christmas Day of the 7-million-pound ($11 million) project, which was looking for life forms and climate change clues in the lake-bed sediment. 'This is of course, hugely frustrating for us, but we have learned a lot this year,' said Siegert of the University of Bristol, principal investigator for the mission, which was headed by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). 'By the end, the equipment was working well, and much of it has now been fully field-tested,' he said on the BAS website."

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37 comments

If you want to manufacture something right, (0)

prasadsurve (665770) | about a year and a half ago | (#42409399)

(even a big hole) give to the Germans or the Chinese.

Re:If you want to manufacture something right, (3, Funny)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about a year and a half ago | (#42409699)

The Germans would give you a highly sophisticated hole, while China would copy that hole and sell millions of cheap holes in the market

Re:If you want to manufacture something right, (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42409965)

The Chinese hole would also collapse upon itself after 50 hours of use while proponents of Chinese outsourcing let on that bringing all our money to China for poor quality goods is sustainable and desirable.

Re:If you want to manufacture something right, (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42410853)

The Germans would reach the drilling target on time, or else. There, in the frigid clarity of long-buried Artic lake water, they would find the source of their Aryan superiority. It was time, again, to sadistically rape and kill for the Fatherland.

Now that the equipment has been shown to work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42409433)

we're abandoning the project.
R-i-i-i-i-i-ight.

Re:Now that the equipment has been shown to work.. (4, Insightful)

Fusselwurm (1033286) | about a year and a half ago | (#42409445)

abandoning != suspending

Re:Now that the equipment has been shown to work.. (1)

squidtron (1458595) | about a year and a half ago | (#42409449)

They say it will be unique per lake maybe true maybe not we shall see

Re:Now that the equipment has been shown to work.. (3, Informative)

OolimPhon (1120895) | about a year and a half ago | (#42410127)

They are abandoning the project because they don't have enough fuel on site to be able to drill down to the lake.

This is because they are using hot water to melt their way downwards, which is fine, but much of the water is escaping sideways into cracks in the ice. This means they needed more water to reach their objective. The water has to be melted from ice collected on the surface, and that takes fuel. Not enough fuel: stop wasting everybody's time and money.

Re:Now that the equipment has been shown to work.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42414043)

Yes, summertime in Antarctica is just a few days old and they're already out of fuel because the equipment is working so well!

Let me guess (0)

rossdee (243626) | about a year and a half ago | (#42409549)

Some alien showed up and started killing off the people.

After all what do you expect to find in an Antarctic lake

Maybe another Stargate, or an Ancient base

Re:Let me guess (1, Funny)

CodeheadUK (2717911) | about a year and a half ago | (#42409833)

Taking flamethowers on a scientific jaunt just isn't cricket old boy.

Re:Let me guess (2)

ankhank (756164) | about a year and a half ago | (#42409947)

> What do you expect ....?

"... They're afloat in a bubble of pressurized air wedged against the underside of the Antarctic ice sheet: below them stretch the still, supercooled waters of Lake Vostok.
They're waiting for a rendezvous...."

A Colder War
a novelette by Charles Stross
http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/stories/colderwar.htm [infinityplus.co.uk]

Re:Let me guess (2)

robthebloke (1308483) | about a year and a half ago | (#42410187)

Nothing that sinister, they just wanted to be back in time for Eastenders.

Triple Redundancy (2, Insightful)

mutantSushi (950662) | about a year and a half ago | (#42409559)

Given that one of the major controversies here is the danger of contamination of the lake (both for negating the scientific value, and the lake ecosystem itself)... Isn't the pursuance of 3 independent, parallel drilling projects solely in the name of national egos, a minor outrage?

Re:Triple Redundancy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42409681)

They are drilling into different lakes...

Re:Triple Redundancy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42409693)

Which is good for science if the theory that each has its own unique ecosystem is correct.

Re:Triple Redundancy (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about a year and a half ago | (#42410417)

Given that the lakes have not only been isolated from the rest of the terrestrial environment for eons, and from each other... no, it's not a minor outrage. It's good science to see how evolution has proceeded in each and how they are different from one another.

Don't mistake the media's preoccupation with "firsts" for the reasons behind the drilling.

and much of it has now been fully field-tested (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42409579)

,for resource extraction?

Yet another failure... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42409591)

Like you can find in this video : Video [youtube.com]

Re:Yet another failure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42417125)

No, failure like you find in your comment. Nothing to see there. Just a waste of time. Thanks for NOTHING.

What a crappy article (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year and a half ago | (#42409695)

The British scientists decided to abandon the mission after trying for 20 hours to connect two holes in the ice that were needed for the hot-water drill to work, said a BAS spokeswoman.

Without a connection between the two holes, the hot water would seep into the porous surface layers of ice and be lost, reducing the pressure and rendering the drill ineffective

I RTFA and all I can say is "Huh?"

Re:What a crappy article (1)

jandar (304267) | about a year and a half ago | (#42409741)

The British scientists decided to abandon the mission after trying for 20 hours to connect two holes in the ice that were needed for the hot-water drill to work, said a BAS spokeswoman.

Without a connection between the two holes, the hot water would seep into the porous surface layers of ice and be lost, reducing the pressure and rendering the drill ineffective

I RTFA and all I can say is "Huh?"

The next sentence explains it, they have not enough water in reserve to compensate:

The team tried to melt and dig more snow to compensate for the water loss, but without success.

Re:What a crappy article (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | about a year and a half ago | (#42410201)

The British scientists decided to abandon the mission after trying for 20 hours to connect two holes in the ice that were needed for the hot-water drill to work, said a BAS spokeswoman.

Without a connection between the two holes, the hot water would seep into the porous surface layers of ice and be lost, reducing the pressure and rendering the drill ineffective

I RTFA and all I can say is "Huh?"

A case of hole overrun. They tried to sink 7 million pounds and couldn't ... oh wait, they could.

Wiring by Lucas. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42409959)

'nuff said.

Re:Wiring by Lucas. (1)

plover (150551) | about a year and a half ago | (#42411009)

The Prince of Darkness is now the Archfiend of Antarctic Drilling.

What really happened (1)

nevillethedevil (1021497) | about a year and a half ago | (#42409969)

They were probably digging near a certain mysterious and terrible mountain range. Upon breaking through into a large underground cavern, the team was set upon by some 4 foot albino penguins and a shoggoth.

Where's Sarah Palin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42410069)

Drill baby drill!

Just leave it the hell alone (0)

fnj (64210) | about a year and a half ago | (#42410171)

One inconsequential untouched natural feature. It's not going to tell you anything of consequence. Why fuck with it?

There are enough wonders of science all around us, readily to hand, and already contaminated by modern man, to last a trillion lifetime's worth of search for knowledge.

Re:Just leave it the hell alone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42410251)

Yes... I agree. More work of the evil patriarchy.

They should stop this nonsense and donate the rest of the money to the fight against rape culture.

P.S. I'm joking and you're a clueless fuckhead.

Re:Just leave it the hell alone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42410459)

Oh you are so intelligent.

Re:Just leave it the hell alone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42410565)

Thanks.

Typical underfunding. (0)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about a year and a half ago | (#42410219)

British ingenuity pissed all over by lack of funds yet again. Being cynical and miserable is fun; but without a good does of U.S. level investment you can't come first. Second place with a better idea is shite.

Re:Typical underfunding. (1)

ahabswhale (1189519) | about a year and a half ago | (#42411237)

Eddie Izzard does a good bit about that in his Dressed to Kill show.

Fortunately, there's always enough money for pretty horses and regalia for royal weddings.

Re:Typical underfunding. (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about a year and a half ago | (#42411371)

There would be even more money for that crap if the investment money put into UK project was by UK companies and not US firms. I'd point to ARM in Cambridge to say that's how its done;but as Apple and VLSI are US based investors ... bugger.

just wait and save money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42411161)

If they wait a decade or so, the ice will melt off enough to make drilling trivial and much less costly to research climate change and early life forms. Unless, of course, the research is a ruse and the real objective is to seek out any oil, gas, or mineral reserves under the ice.

Antarctic Holes (0)

guttentag (313541) | about a year and a half ago | (#42411697)

Why drill a hole in in the Antarctic ice when it's so much cheaper to make a hole in the antarctic ozone layer? [wikipedia.org]
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